Selfies - good or bad?

Young Australian drivers are taking part in a dangerous craze of taking "selfies" while behind the wheel, prompting harsh warnings from the police and government. There are more than 4.5 million posts on Instagram tagged with #driving, nearly 527,000 tagged with #carselfie, 20,000 with #drivingselfie and more than 78,000 for #drivinghome. 



The Oxford Dictionary has named 'selfie' as its word of the year for 2013, an award given to a word or expression that has attracted a significant amount of interest in the past 12 months. Its certainly been used a lot - an increase of 17,000% from the year before and no wonder some of us are fed up with hearing about and seeing selfies!

Almost everyone has taken at least one selfie at some point. Here is one of mine. 

Taking one or two occasionally is fine, however many young people are taking 100s and 100s of selfies every day, editing them (so they look better) and posting these photos on the array of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their own blogs.  According to one website, we (as a society) post 1 million selfies per day - 1 million. Another article said "17 million per week". Another website stated that 51% of those in the UK have taken selfies and create 35 million each month. Those aged 18-24 are the main culprits of the current selfie obsession. 

Whether these figures are accurate or not - the fact is, we are posting huge numbers of selfies on-line every week. Society (or segments of society) are obsessed with themselves, I mean really obsessed with themselves. And to me, this is a tragic and worrying sign of times to come. We have millions of people more interested in taking photos of themselves than being part of their own community. And God certainly isn't on their radar because one cannot think of God when self-absorbed with themselves. 

Rembrant's selfie
Selfies aren’t new, there are many a famous artist who painted a selfie, Rembrandt did quite a few and likewise Van Gogh - however I doubt these men were painting themselves for self gratification, more likely to practice and improve their skills. Some probably never intended for their paintings to be sold. However, today we have the technology that has made it super easy and fast to take, edit and share photos with the entire world. It only takes moments before dozens of people can see my photo. 

Whilst I don’t think there is anything wrong with selfie per se (it can capture a funny or memorable moment such as the arrival of a new baby or an engagement), what worries me is the continuation along the path of the “it’s all about ME” society in which we live and I believe this is evident in the whole selfie craze.


We live in a world of self-worship. Like the Greek mythological figure Narcissus - we have fallen in love with our own reflection and we know what happened to Narcissus, he drowned as he couldn't leave his own imagine. 

Narcissus by Caravaggio (1594-96)
We live in a world were some believe they need to self-promote constantly otherwise they will fade into oblivion, we live in a world were people want their 15 minutes of fame and through selfies they can be noticed. We want others to know what we are wearing, what we are doing (or not doing), where we are, who we are with, what we are eating - we pose, we flaunt, we are on display for all and sundry. From posting a selfies we receive temporary satisfaction, that small moment in the spotlight. But satisfaction is only ever fleeing, so we keep on taking more and more to maintain our gratification. It is like a drug addiction.  

A segment of the selfie craze is the taking and posting of sexual or glamours shots, usually by young women (copying those women in Hollywood who have posted these sorts of shots such as Kim Kardashian). Why would a young woman place herself in danger of sexual exploitation - because they want to receive praise, they want compliments on "how pretty" they look, they want to be noticed by guys. Sadly, we have a growing number of  young women who are lonely, sad, depressed and insecure and they believe through selfies they can boost their self-confidences. They can't and it only makes their problems worse. Whilst many more young males commit suicide - far more young women self harm and this is partly due to their many insecurities and selfies will only exacerbate the problem. 

As Christians we do not need to be noticed nor do we need our moment of fame. We are not meant to be part of this world and its many sinful activities. As Christians we need to shine our focus on Christ and not on ourselves. We all struggle with some level of self-glorification, pride and egocentric living - selfies will only make this worse. These selfies are not Christ-centred in any way. We are called to live a morally pure life in every way. Posting seductive pictures is not promoting purity and holiness and we need young Christian women to understand the danger they are placing themselves in. 

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)

Whilst there is nothing wrong with Christians taking selfies, we need to think before we take and post: 

1. why am I doing this, for what purpose, and
2. is this Christ-centred

Remember that Jesus called us to die to ourselves, perhaps its time we die to our selfie too and take fewer.  And remember what happened to Narcissus. 

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”
(Ecclesiastes 1:1)

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Comments

  1. Dear Jo, Just popped in before the day is far spent! I think this was so good! We live in a world "of" it is all about me! You do look good!
    Have a wonderful day!
    Roxy

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    1. I do worry about the next generation with their focus on "me" and certainly not on others, how will they manage bringing up children which requires being selfless.

      Hope you have had a lovely week.

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  2. Wow, that is a lot of "selfies" if the figures are accurate. I have never taken one, not yet anyway. Have a wonderful week.

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    1. You must be a rare person not have taken at least one!! but at least you know you haven't contributed to those huge statistics.

      Delete
  3. Wow, that is a LOT of selfies!!! Ugh! How very conceited! And how stupid to take photos while driving!
    I rarely take a photo of myself - and usually if I do it's because there is no-one else available to take a photo of myself with someone else (e.g. with the children etc). It's not to say "look how beautiful I am!" but rather to take a snapshot of a memorable moment. :)
    I do wonder where all of this is going to end. I think our current selfish society is a lot like the Roman empire when people were so focused on themselves that society just destroyed and killed itself eventually, and everybody's "house of cards" all came tumbling down. Sad.
    I think a lot of it stems from insecurity - people have no *real* goals (that mean anything), people have a huge gaping hole in their lives where God should be (and hence, no eternal purpose), no joy (only temporary moments of happiness - if that)... And so they fill it with things like self-aggrandizement, vanity, ME, ME, ME! :( It is a very sad symptom of a very sick society, a very sick people.

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    Replies
    1. I was interested to read that many touch up their photos so they look better which is even more depressing! I agree with the lack of goals, or perhaps lack of hope in the future. Perhaps they only live for the moment as they can't see anything hopeful for the future.

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  4. Arrrrrrrrrrggggh, those constant profile-picture updaters and selfie posters! If they only knew how totally transparent their motives are! I always want to write Yes, honey, you're still pretty, and now that 30 of your friends have said so, can you go on with your day feeling ok about yourself?

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  5. The selfie is the perfect example of this "me" generation. I see so many of them on Instagram or FB and it's really a cry for "look at me" or "say something good about me". The need for validation is immediate and shallow and comes from society, not from God or even family. Terrific thoughts.

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    Replies
    1. So true and how sad.They will never be happy with the look at me attitude and what happens when they realise it. Its all rather depressing.

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing these facts! I hate taking selfies. I went through a small phase during middle school, but quickly got over myself. People really need to step away from the camera and actually live their lives.

    -Lara @ Methodical Living
    http://methodicalliving.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Couldn't agree more, this isn't living at all. Thanks for stopping by.

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  7. Yes, I suppose I will be candid. I am about done with selfies already. I can't think of anything more vain than posting pictures of only yourself. It really shocks me... Thank you for pointing out the dangers of selfies and the growing "me" monsters that modern society is raising.

    Thank you for also linking up your thought-provoking posts to the Art of Home-Making Mondays!

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    Replies
    1. There is something strange (weird) about posting photos of yourself constantly for no reason at all - except to show other people that you are still around and looking gorgeous!

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  8. This is a fantastic post Jo :-)
    I must admit that I took a selfie yesterday after a hair cut - and I felt rather 'awkward' for doing it hahaha.
    It's sad to see how much society has become obsessed with everyone having to know everything they are doing constantly, I was discussing with a friend just last week how much it has taken away from true friendships and people having things to discuss when they catch up for coffee when they already share everything, and yet at the same time it does have a funny way of connecting people & sharing with those who perhaps we may not otherwise get to share so much with (I have family interstate for example).
    But I must admit, taking photos of ones-self while driving is ludacris if you ask me! That is just asking for trouble!

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    Replies
    1. And since writing this I have discovered selfie sticks to make taking selfies much easier !! Madness.

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